Call To Action: Chair Of The Select Health Committee

Do you value evidence based healthcare and health-related policies? On June 17th MPs can decide who will chair the Health Select Committee. The two potential candidates for chair are:

  • Dr Sarah Wollaston MP – Member of Parliament for Totnes
  • David Tredinnick MP – Member of Parliament for Bosworth

Why should skeptics care?

David Tredinnick is a fan of Medical Astrology and once claimed £210 for astrology software and £300 for tuition for the software. He believes that surgeons do not operate when the moon is full as it causes increased bleeding, he has spoken in the house on funding for Chinese herbal medicine, accusing critics of being racist and his questions in parliament have promoted homeopathy, radionics (remote psychic healing) and astrology. He has also been involved in campaigns to promote herbalism and has also been the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated and Complementary Healthcare since 2002

Is this really a man what you want to chair the Select Health Committee – the governmental committee appointed to examine and assess the policies of the Department of Health?

Visit Write To to write directly to your MP today. Pop in your postcode and follow the instructions.

The Good Thinking Society have provided a letter template than you can copy and paste here.



Bath Skeptical Society denounce Chaplaincy at University of Bath

Bath Skeptical Society today denounce the action of the Chaplaincy at the University of Bath who censored material being performed by students who are part of the Comedy Writing Improvisation and Performance Society (CWIPS) because it was deemed offensive to religious people.

Bath Impact reports that ‘just four hours prior to opening night the committee of CWIPS was told that a sketch involving the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed titled ‘Cooking with Christ’ should be cut. “The SU couldn’t give more of an explanation,” recalls one of the members of the committee regarding the lack of justification given for the changes being made to the show, especially on such short notice.

It became known that the Chaplaincy of the University had become involved in the decision making process of the SU. “We were told that the chaplaincy had read it and pronounced that sketch too graphic”, the committee member said, “we come under the authority of the SU, so whilst we don’t necessarily agree with what they asked us to cut we have to respect them as they are elected to their position, however the chaplaincy is not part of the SU.”

In the wake of atrocities across the globe attempting to silence the criticism or mockery of religious ideas and figures we feel that this is unacceptable. For people to be censored from mocking ideas simply for fear of offending those who are not open minded enough to accept challenges to ideas they are invested in is not compatible with a fair society, and should not be tolerated within a university. It insults not only those of us who champion freedom of speech but also the religious people whom those responsible for this decision have attempted to save from being offended.

I, on behalf of the Bath Skeptical Society have reached out today via the National Secular Society to the students who were censored in this manner to offer them the chance to perform their work, uncensored, at one of our future events in the city centre and I hope they will take up the offer.

Hayley Stevens, on behalf of the Bath Skeptical Society.

Conscious Robots for December

You may recognise our December speaker from previous Bath Skeptics events as Joanna Bryson is sometimes in attendance at our monthly talks (even when she has no voice!)

Dr Joanna Bryson will be taking the microphone at our December event on Tuesday 6th with a talk entitled ‘The ethics on conscious robots’ that will look at whether it is possible that artifical intelligence built as artefacts by humans might themselves be considered moral subjects?  Moral patients that deserve our protection, or even moral agents that deserve credit or responsibility for their own actions? And what, if anything, would a robot’s consciousness contribute to this question?

photo of Dr Joanna Bryson

After twenty years of involvement in artificial intelligence, Joanna has come to the conclusion that the answers to these questions have less to do with technology and more to do with sceptical enquiry into the origins of our concepts of morality.

Joanna has been at Bath University since 2002 and in 2010 was made a Reader in Computer Science. We’re really excited that Joanna is going to be speaking to us on a subject that is something we’ve never explored before.

There have been a few changes to the way our events are organised – we are now trialing the use of Eventbrite to see if we can get a better head for numbers of those attending the event (something that will help us set up the room accordingly etc.) If you are thinking of coming to our December talk then please select how many free tickets you need by clicking here and we’ll see you on the night!

We’re currently organising events for 2012 so watch our event website for details of upcoming talks as they’re organised and arranged.

Also worth a mention is the fact that on November 29th the very first Bristol Bright Club is talking place and previous Bath Skeptics in the Pub speaker, Ian Walker, is on the line up! More details here.

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vampires, tattoos & robots – oh my!

The rest of the year looks very exciting for Bath Skeptics in the Pub with a whole range of different talks coming our way – not only that, but we’ve already started to plan ahead for 2012 too!

On Tuesday October 4th we have Deborah Hyde coming to talk for us about ‘Unnatural Predators’. Deborah is the acting editor of The Skeptic Magazine and also blogs as Jourdemayne. Below is a look at some of the word Deborah has done in the past on ‘The Vampires of Rhode Island’ and demonstrates how interesting her talk promises to be.

Our November speaker, Dr Matt Lodder, was recommended to us by the previous ‘Skeptics in the Pub’ groups he has spoken for. His talk will be a fascinating look at how the media perception of tattoos has been trying to convince people that tattoos are ‘not just for sailors’ for a very long time.

Matt recently wrote a brilliant piece for The Guardian outlining some of the most common myths surrounding those who are tattooed. Did you know Winston Churchill’s mum was even inked? Neither did I, which is why I can’t wait for this talk to learn about more myths surrounding body modification and tattoo art.

It’s a talk with a difference, but it’s important to remember that there are claims made in all walks of life that effect people and the way they view others, that deserve equal skepticism. Those who have tattoos will be able to relate to some of the myths Matt wrote about in The Guardian. This talk may challenge the view of tattoos you hold – it promises to be an enlightening discussion.

In December Dr Joanna Bryson, from Bath University (we ❤ local academics!) will be talking to us about the ethics of conscious robots. Learn more about Joanna on her website here.

We hope to see you on Tuesday at the usual venue (The Westgate) which has recently has a lovely refurbishment and is even cosier than it used to be. We’re busy looking for speakers for 2012 so if you have any suggestions or recommendations to do be sure to get in touch with us.

Open Mic Line Up

There’s still time to register your interest in speaking as part of our ‘Open Mic Night’ at Bath Skeptics where you can take the microphone for 5 – 10 minutes and talk/rant about a topic that you feel passionate about.

You can even turn up on the night with a topic in mind. However, this is the line up so far to pique your interest. This event is free and is a social event.

Jenny Bartle – The Skeptic Movement
(campaigns and complaints; what should we talk about and why)
Michael  Paynter – Agnosticism
Bo Novak – Vitamin Supplements
Hayley Stevens – Healing on the streets of Bath

If you have something you’d like to talk about click here and fill in the form
If you want more details about the event click here 

Take the mic!

We’re opening the stage up to our audience for our social event in September!

Have you ever had to bite your tongue about something so that you wouldn’t offend those around you who aren’t as skeptical of things as you are? Have you ever had a question you couldn’t openly discuss with your family because it conflicts with their beliefs?

We’ve all been there – whether the topic is religion, alt med, paranormal beliefs or political thoughts and ideas. Be silent no longer, for Bath Skeptics has a solution! We will be hosting a ‘skeptical open mic night’ where audience members can take the microphone for five to ten minutes to discuss a skeptical subject they feel passionate about, share their ideas, or to ask their questions to an open audience for feedback.

Think of it as one huge discussion about the things that matter to you with like minded people, in the relaxed atmosphere of a pub. We will confirm a date soon (our venue is currently going through a refurb and isn’t open). However, if you are interested in taking part we’d love to hear what you’d like to talk about, or what questions you’d like to open up to the audience so that we can start forming a schedule for the night.

How to create a cult…

Scientology has been in the public eye for a very long time, & much criticism has been levelled their way, the most recent being the case against Cllr. John Dixon in what was termed the ‘Stupid Scientology’ case.

Martin Poulter has been a critic of Scientology for a long time, here he explains what his talk (that he delivered to Lewes Skeptics, but will be delivering for Bath Skeptics in June) is going to be about.

Martin also recently appeared on Channel 4’s ‘’ in the week that marked the centenary of the birth of Scientology founder, Ron L Hubbard. Watch him here.

Don’t leave it there though! Come along on June 21st to learn more about Scientology and how there’s more to the ‘religion’ than you probably know.

“As somebody who thought she was well researched on the truth of Scientology, I once interviewed Martin about the religion and his criticism of it and I came away from the interview in a state of shock at what I had learned.
When you listen to Martin, what he says brings you a sense of discomfort that leaves you wanting to learn more. ” Hayley Stevens, Righteous Indignation Podcast

Date for your diary
Bath Skeptics in the Pub with Martin Poulter
June 21st, 7:30pm at The Westgate [details here]

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